Sunday, March 17, 2013

Proud to be of Irish Heritage

Proud to be of Irish Heritage

As we celebrate St. Patrick’s Day today I am reminded of my good fortune to be of Irish heritage.  My mother’s father was Irish. My maternal grandparents lived on the corner across the street from the rectory of St. Bridget’s Catholic Church in Logansport, Indiana.  I grew up on the same street, the opposite corner of the block directly across from the convent where the Sisters of Saint Francis lived.

In our town of 18,000 there were 3 Catholic churches – the Italian church, the German church and the Irish church.  We attended the Irish church and the Irish parochial school. The school was directly across the street from our house. Early rebellion was impossible!

Our elementary school sports teams were called “the Shamrocks”. Is there such a thing as a fighting shamrock? We were proud. Green was the school color. Additionally, I grew up just a few hours south of Notre Dame University. I’ve been told I attended Fighting Irish football games in vitro. No wonder I identified with the Irish from my earliest memories.

It also helped that I was blessed with a pale Irish complexion kissed by freckles, a gift of blarney, a love of rainbows, and an appreciation for Celtic history, lore, and Aran  hand knit sweaters.

But it wasn’t until I visited the Emerald Isle myself, with my mom and dad, that I truly appreciated the beauty of Ireland and my appreciation for my Irish heritage.  I looked like a local in Dublin. Tourists stopped me and asked for directions as I wandered the streets with my shopping bags filled with gorgeous woolens and lovely silver jewelry in Celtic designs. And there is nothing more satisfying that enjoying an Irish coffee in front of a fireplace or a pint of Harp at the local pub with a local musician performing traditional Irish songs.

Then there is the landscape.  One cannot imagine the depth of the colors of the countryside, the variety of greens, the lushness, the wildness of the cliffs, the mystery of the earliest inhabitants.  

The Irish are an interesting people, a resilient people, a nation of survivors. They’ve been invaded, oppressed, conquered and starved. The Irish also have created the most famous crystal in the world and gave birth to some of the most lauded authors and literature in the English language.

I believe I have that creativity and resilience in my blood and that is what I celebrate this St. Patrick’s Day.

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